Beat the dog

Out of all the rituals, to me, this one seems the most off-the-wall silly.  And, to my great surprise, this ritual is present in a handful of couples that I spoke with, although not exactly the same.  More details are in the variations below.

If they really thought about it, couples would realize that, slowly, they stop greeting each other with the enthusiasm they feel (or felt) about being together again.  Who loves you and shows it with a lot of enthusiasm each and every time when welcoming you home?  Your dog!  Have some playtime and fun with each other by mimicking a dog greeting.  When I come home after a period away, my dog will immediately run up to me with a wildly wagging tail, smile a nice big dog smile, perhaps jump up on me, and freely give lots of kisses.  Of course, not all dogs are like that, but think of a Golden Retriever or a chocolate Lab or most of those little bitty dogs, and you’ll have the right picture.  I recommend you skip the butt sniffing part!  This isn’t something folks do every day, but every now and then, try and greet each other like a hyper dog. 



  • Try and do it in an even more exaggerated style than a dog would; in other words, outdo or “beat the dog,” and you’ll both end up hugging, kissing, and laughing for sure! 
  • Children were involved for a couple of the partners interviewed, and the greeting turned into more of a group jumping up and down party (the children were under 12). 
  • One couple reported that sometimes they’d surprise the dog by entering the home without being noticed.  Then, the task was to sneak around and find the partner and greet them like the dog would, which would then get the dog in the act afterwards. 
  • Mixing it up, a couple would sometimes both greet the dog together when they arrived home together. 
  • After their dog died and they didn’t replace her, the couple still occasionally greeted one another like a dog, crawling on all fours, bounding through the house until they found their partner, and greet them like the dog did.


Principal Purposes Served

  • Create stable touchstones
  • Build the relationship culture and history
  • Communicate values and beliefs
  • Provide regular opportunities for play
  • Emotional money in the bank
  • Foster nurturing, affectionate, loving contact
  • Fulfill needs for predictability and novelty